This image, captured by confocal microscopy, depicts the interrelationship between plants and a group of fungi called Glomeromycota in a process known as Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis. In this mutual barter, the fungus inhabiting the plant’s roots extends its branches (known as hypha) into the nearby soil to extract and provide additional nutrients to its host plant. In return, the fungus receives food produced by the plant via photosynthesis.
Previously, it was assumed that this food source contained only high-energy sugars, however new research published in New Phytologist suggests otherwise. Researchers from the University of Bonn have provided the first experimental evidence of the exchange of lipids or fats in AM symbiosis demonstrating the fungus’ reliance on its host plant for its supply of complex lipids essential for its survival. [CREDIT: Maria J Harrison / BTI]